CHAPTER 16
AN INTERLUDE OF AMERICAN POLITICS

In October, 1915, there occurred an incident which loomed dangerous at the time. It contained a great tragedy, but in the end, it strengthened our organization.

The Director of our New York office at this time was Lindon W. Bates, an old friend and engineering colleague of mine. His eldest son was en route to join our staff in Belgium when he was drowned as a result of the German torpedoing of the Lusitania on May 7, 1915.

John White, our Director of Shipping, who had gone to New York on business in September, soon after began sending me word that Bates was acting in a strange manner. He stated that Bates blamed the Relief for the loss of his son; that he was in communication with the State Department, and some Senator in Washington, denouncing the Commission as a national danger; that we were acting in violation of the Logan Act of a century before, which prohibited American citizens from taking part in negotiations with foreign governments on international affairs.

All this impressed me very little at that moment because our negotiations were not on behalf of the United States but on behalf of a private, neutral organization sponsored by neutral Ambassadors and Ministers. However, it seemed that Senator Lodge, a violent critic of President Wilson and the State Department, was developing a sensational story.

The Commission was peculiarly dependent upon good American opinion, and this might well be disturbed by any such denunciation,

-161-

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An American Epic - Vol. 1
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